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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  March 13, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

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30-year-old young woman. >> is terrible. we are going to have to leave it there, keep watching and working with the women of this country together. thanks for your time, terry o'neill. thanks for watching, i'm al sharpton. a special live edition of "hardball" starts right now. rebels without a cause. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, "survivor," alabama and mississippi edition. somebody could get voted off the island. mitt romney needs one win tonight to prove he can win in the south. rick santorum needs one win to remain mitt romney's chief rival. newt gingrich need tops win one to stay viable. and they can't all win one state, so something has to give down south.
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polls close in misand alabama in one hour, 8:00 eastern and msnbc will bring you up-to-the-minute coverage as votes come in. at 11:00 p.m. eastern, we'll have a full wrap-up of the day's voting on "the ed show." >> chuck todd is political editor and michael steel, former republican party. there are several possible outcomes, there's two states, how many outcomes can there be from the votes tonight in mississippi and alabama? first, let's say santorum wins both tonight. if that happens, that means newt gets blown out of the race, i think. and santorum secures the position of clearly number-one challenger to mitt romney. let's stop. here's another possibility. gingrich could win both tonight. he's from that area. he's from georgia.
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that could hurt santorum, which helps romney. it keeps him in the race and keeps santorum from wins. third, you could have a gingrich/santorum split tonight, each one winning a state. if that happens, no big changes. finally, romney could take one of the states, say mississippi. that's big for romney because if he wins mississippi and newt wins alabama, that's very bad for santorum and very good for romney. that's my view. let's go through your thinking. >> i agree with that. >> all that? >> i agree those are the basic four scenarios. i guess i agree with their likelihoods. you look at this by the numbers, and you cannot figure out how romney gets the 30%. i'm stunned at the states. georgia, south carolina -- >> let's look at the numbers. >> 28%. 28%. 28%. 28%. 26%. do you see a pattern, chris? however, the romney people are
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cautiously optimistic like they were in tennessee. >> they are spending a load of money. most of it negative. >> and number three, when you look at a mississippi, its republican party is actually still fairly young. it's a conservative state, but they've only had competitive primaries for a short period of time. a lot of them stayed democratic and voted primary. and the establishment still has a lot of control inside the mississippi republican party, the barbour machine. less that way in alabama. >> where's haley? >> henry, the nephew who basically is the family's politics operationally, he's with romney. >> let's go to michael. these are white people, basically, white southerners, evangelicals, we know their views. not particularly in love with mormons. recently, accepted catholics as christians like them. i'm being brutal here. wait until you see these
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numbers. most don't believe in evolution. they have conservative views about our culture. what do you think is the situation down there? can romney win down there? >> i think romney can. i think mississippi could be a good playground for romney, quite frankly. it's a fairly new political environment for them in terms of, you know, the way their primary is set up. so you still have romney tied to the barbour clan. has the opportunity to use that network to get that vote out. but this is, you know, one of those situations where i think even if romney wins mississippi tonight and newt or santorum takes the other, it doesn't change really the dynamics in terms of that march towards 1,144 votes. the reality for romney remains the fact that give him all the outstanding winner-take-all state, the rest are proportional.
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he's not going to pull 50 to 60% of that vote. but as chuck has pointed out, that's not been the trend line here. so i think we're going to see a little more status quo ante coming out of tonight than a lot of people anticipate. >> i'm watching romney. you can't see this, michael. here's romney doing his local shaking hands. he reminds me of prince charles in new guinea. you have the elite brit going out to meet the people from a totally different culture. he's talking in their language and using some of the slang. it doesn't seem like he's connecting to these people. frankly, newt gingrich has never been good at this either. >> as awkward as romney looks campaigning in the south doing hand-to-hand campaigning, i haven't been all that impressed with santorum doing this. >> you're saying none of them connect? >> newt gingrich, he's the southerner in the race. he was born and raised in pennsylvania. >> let's stick with romney.
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i think romney is uniquely unqualified to connect with regular folk. here he is. he had trouble connecting with southern voters. here are a few reasons why. let's watch him in action, prince charles in new guinea. >> i'm learning to say y'all. i like grits and strange things are happening to me. morning, y'all. good to be with ya. i got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits, i'll tell ya. i've been getting hugs from southern girls, from 12 to -- well, a lot more than 12. last night i was in mississippi and had catfish for the second time. get jeff foxworthy over here. blue collar comedy. >> hey, you, blue collar workers out there.
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>> it's clearly not natural to him, but at the same time, it's not natural to santorum and newt -- you know, newt is the worst of all these guys. he sits behind a podium at every event. he doesn't even try. romney, for all of the flaws he's been -- he's clearly not a good ad lib campaigner, but he tries. >> a republican strategist in alabama, who we only hear from in these campaigns, he took romney to task for the comments. he told the boss, "if you're going to pander, at least pander well, and this isn't pandering well." you know, pandering is what politicians do. whatever market, the old days, blintzes, cheese steaks in new york. this is the most oafish example of pandering. i don't know what you make of it. >> that's the point. it's almost becoming a caricature of a candidate running for president. i'll agree with chuck. that's not what you want. the other two aren't doing a bang up job at it either, but you're not playing their clips. those clips -- you know, they aren't so egregious that they
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stand out. the reality of it is is with romney, it stands out because it's obvious he's trying too hard. he needs to relax with it. you go to the south and talking y'all. what happens in the general election and you're up in harlem? what are you going to say then? you're not going to start speaking ebonics, you know, talking all hip-hop. so just be yourself. relax about it. show people you care about the country. you have an agenda that shows how you care for them, and i think that will begin to lessen the talk about him connecting with people. >> clinton could go north and south very easily. >> obama does the same thing. they drop their gs. bush used to do it, too. they go south of the mason-dixon line and they drop the gs. >> does this guy care about people like me and you? two questions we ask in politics. is this country going in the right direction or not?
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that's a question mark still. second question, does this man or woman care about people like you and me? let's look at romney falling into the old trap and saying he's with the rich people. we're going to get this thing. he's talking about the nfl owners. he isn't just talking sports like a guy watching espn at night. here's romney talking about his rich friends. remember, he told racing fans he had rich nascar owners. here he is yesterday being interviewed on a sports radio show asking about peyton manning and where he might end up. romney talked about his friends who happen to own football teams. own them. let's listen. >> i'm surprised to hear that denver is thinking about him. i mean, i don't want him in our neck of the woods, let's put it that way. i don't want him to go to miami or the jets. but i got a lot of good friends. the owner of the miami dolphins and also the jets are friends of mine. but let's keep him away from new
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england so that tom brady has a better shot of picking up a championship of us. >> well, he's throwing in a little al roker there. a little neck of the woods. there's a patented phrase if there ever was one. but he's showing some knowledge of division. then he talks about consorting with the owners. is this helpful in identifying people? >> it's getting to the wrong narrative, but you do identify. >> i love the way you talk. getting to the wrong narrative. >> the narrative he's been tripping over himself. which is this, it's do i understand the problems of average americans that live in the suburbs of whether it's philadelphia or orlando or whether it's birmingham, frankly. and that's where he is certainly struggling. and he's got to fix that. you're right about the direction of the country. and you're right about the connection issue.
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what romney is doing is giving obama an opening with a set of voters that the obama folks thought they would be struggling with, which is the sort of middle-income, white, working-class voter who i think is up for grabs. >> i think it's interesting, michael. we are political students as well as adversaries sometimes. it seems to me it's going to be great to watch these guys on television should it come down to romney and obama. here you have this well-born, elite guy. this guy, a mixed background, by our terms in this country, african-american. it's just going to be so fascinating to see them up against each other for four hours both trying to grab that connection that we're talking about. >> it could be the tale of two americans and how these guys are struggling to unite them and not really necessarily represent one or the other, bringing all that middle-class energy you just described to the table, as well as those who have become successful as examples of what we aspire to.
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and i think how romney communicates that is going to be key here. obama, we know, will talk the language and he will do the level of pandering that a good politician needs to do effectively. but i think for romney, you know, when he gets a moment like that and talking sports and the jockish stuff, don't say two of my friends are owners of the team. say i was talking to a couple of the fellas and they were talking about the division matchup. i mean, in other words, bring it to a point where people, you know, yeah, you may have been talking about the owners, but you don't need to tell me that. i may assume that, but bring it to a point where you don't have to tell me every relationship you have. just let me know you've got something that's close to where i am. >> i'm sure you'll be close range to help us do the play-by-play and the color. thank you, michael steele. and chuck todd, thank you. chuck is my guru these days. polls will be closed at 8:00 eastern in alabama and mississippi.
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we'll be all night long. regular scheduled shows to give you the information. coming up, two sons of the south, former senators trent lott and johnny breaux to handicap race. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. you know when i grow up, i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again. [ female announcer ] discover what's next in your life. get this free travel bag when you join at monarch of marketing analysis. with the ability to improve roi through seo all by cob.
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welcome back to "hardball." as we mentioned earlier, alabama and mississippi might just whittle down the republican field to a two-man race if newt gets blown out tonight. the polls are all over the place however. it's hard to predict what's going to happen tonight. it's fascinating. we have two natives. experts on dixie politics. former senate leader trent lott of mississippi and mitt romney supporter, former democratic senator johnny breaux. i love that. you must have put that on there. let's go to jackson, mississippi. the beautiful downtown, beautiful governor's mansion, very dixie. how is it going to go tonight? let's talk about this. there's a pattern that's emerged here tonight romney can't seem to break, whether it's his lds religion. look at the numbers. show them again. we have them in green. 28%, 26%, 28%, 26%.
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he can't break high 20s in dixie. why not, trent? >> he might make it to 30. i think he's been the underdog. he was down 30 points a month ago. he could very well win it in mississippi. i think people would be astounded to see him do that. >> what about all this y'all crap of his? is it gonna work? go down there and pander. >> you know, look, eat a little catfish and grits, he called them cheesy grits or whatever. >> but it is cheese grits. not cheesy grits. >> they may have had it on the menu. i don't know. ordinarily, you say cheese grits. >> what's that place in new orleans? >> mothers. they don't serve cheesy grits at mothers. >> if he would eat a po'boy, he would be a better candidate. >> people in the south may think president obama is a muslim, but
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they know that governor romney is a mormon. it makes them uncomfortable. they feel it's sort of a cult. he can say cheesy grits and y'all all he wants, but that's the basic problem. >> why don't they tell that to pollsters? the polls are showing them even. the governor of alabama, here he is yesterday on fox tv. he said he didn't endorse anybody, but he voted for santorum today. he responded to that question about whether mitt romney's mormon faith might play a role in the primary today. let's listen. >> do you think mitt romney's religion be an issue in your state, governor? >> well, i think that's a very subtle issue that probably may be a problem in many states, not just in alabama. but i do believe that
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republicans are looking to see who can win the presidency and they are going to look at that more than anything else. >> he was right about that, chris. i thought we put your faith aside back with kennedy when we said, look, we're not going to determine how we vote for a man or woman based on their religion. and mississippi is going to show tonight that we have risen above that. we want to know who is going to do something about the economy and energy policies. >> let's look at fresh numbers. let's look at this on evolution. this is just cultural. alabama, do you believe in evolution? 26% say yes. 60% say no. in mississippi, only 22%. that's cultural. it's the bible. it's the fundamental reading of the bible. why do people answer that when they know about anthropology and the bones? >> we're not going to get into a discussion today about evolution and the bible. we believe in god. we want to know who is going to
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be president. >> we're not going to let this become a discussion about religion. >> i think gingrich will carry alabama. santorum has a good chance of carrying mississippi. neither one of those states is romney going to get over 30% of the vote. he hasn't been put it together in any state. >> you said the country is beyond religion. what's the religion of the president of the united states right now? they give him 14% think he's christian in alabama. muslim, they give him 45%, although he's denied it. not sure. there's a sweetheart of an answer. 41% say i'm not sure. in other words, he might be lying to me. in mississippi, your state, one in eight say he's a fellow christian. 52% say he's a muslim. and 36% say we're not sure. up to 88% of the people don't buy the fact he's a christian. isn't that a problem for the
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president? you say religion doesn't matter anymore. i'm just asking. >> you're talking about something that doesn't matter. when a man or a woman tells you their faith is, you accept them at their word. >> but they don't in your state. the majority say he's a muslim. >> but that's not going to affect the vote. >> even if they are voting for a muslim? this is getting hilarious. you say it doesn't matter. you're laughing at me. you say it doesn't matter. then they say i don't believe he is what he says he is. >> of course it matters. people like to vote for someone they feel that they can associate with both from a religious standpoint, cultural standpoint, and that is part of romney's problems in the south. he's not from the south. he doesn't sound like he's from the south. he's not a christian, according to many, who think he is a mormon. >> how do you explain he's running strong in both
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mississippi and alabama? a lot of people in the media -- >> the same polls have your people down in mississippi, only one in eight saying the president is what he says he is, a christian. but you don't believe that poll. you gave me trouble when i mentioned the evolution poll saying you people don't believe in science down there. 66% don't believe in science. but your candidate, believe every number. >> let's think about what we're talking here. you're talking about poll numbers on evolution instead of talking about the economy. the fact we don't have an energy policy. what are we going to do about the price of gasoline? that's what we want to be talking about. >> that's not what the campaign is talking about down there. they are having to address those cultural issues in the south. having said that, those states are not going to vote for the democratic president obama in the november election. that's a given. the question of the nominee, i think it's going to go on for several more months. the republicans made a big mistake in dragging it out as
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long as they have. >> what's it going to be like in tampa? i haven't asked it in a couple months. we're going to get a real summer because we have springtime already. 100-degree humidity in late august. a bunch of tea party types who don't believe in evolution, think the president is a muslim, they are getting together and they are going to pick this yankee, this guy from massachusetts who was for health care, just like the president, pro-choice just like the president. he's probably for civil unions, like the president. they are going to make him their hero? >> first of all, chris, we are part of the country now. we're going to nominate mitt romney to be president of the united states. we're going to have a great convention. we're going to keep the goal that really matters in mind, and that is, who is our best candidate to defeat barack obama, and that is mitt romney. >> so you don't care if the guy
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that fixes your computer is from bangladesh as long as he fixes the computer? in other words, you'll nominate anybody that can beat obama. >> i care. and i think i picked mine. the one i think will be the best candidate. that's mitt romney. >> your voters will vote for romney with a full heart? >> they will vote for romney with a full heart. >> they -- >> you're talking about obama. i'm talking about mitt romney. >> okay. >> i think you're going to have newt gingrich at the convention. i think you're going to have santorum at the convention. and you're going to have sarah palin at the convention. they are all going to be arguing they are the most logical choice for people who believe as they do and not romney. he has a real problem at the convention. >> at the convention, newt and rick will give speeches in support of romney. >> did you see the movie "game change"?
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>> i saw it. >> mccain comes off as the man in the room. >> okay. >> except in the selection process. >> and when it mattered. who wins tonight in mississippi? >> i think romney has a chance to win it. >> i think gingrich wins both. >> who wins alabama? >> that one is going to be closer, with newt having a little edge. after all -- >> would you like to see newt gingrich president, him or obama? >> i picked my candidate. >> if it was newt versus the president, who would you vote for? >> newt. >> not me. >> you're not faking your accent either. i can tell. senator john breaux and trent lott. >> mitt romney hits a new low in pandering. the sideshow is next. you're watching hard baum, only on msnbc.
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, strategy session. mitt romney wasn't kidding when he said the state primaries were an away game for him, but his efforts to turn that around haven't clicked. here's jon stewart weighing in. >> with the primaries tomorrow in alabama and mississippi, we'll check in with mitt romney's southern strategy and how it's developing. >> i got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits. i'll tell you. >> everything romney knows about the south he learned from a jeff foxworthy routine. if your favorite kind of fireworks is firing people at work -- seriously, where is romney getting this stuff? >> mitt is the right guy for the job. >> if you have a car on your
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front lawn 'cause your garage only holds five cars, if you think cloverfield was a movie about your butler, you might be a romney. >> you might just be a redneck. but did jeff foxworthy get hit with more than he bargained for. let's listen to what romney hoped to learn from the newest member of his team. >> i'm looking forward to going hunting some time and you can tell me which end of the rifle is the right one. >> former vice president dick cheney accidentally shot a friend on a hunting trip in 2006. we're not going to forget. up next, rick santorum and newt gingrich hope to deliver a knockout blow to the other guy. we have two strategists from both candidates joining us next. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
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welcome back to "hardball." howard fineman and with us msnbc political analyst alex wagner, host of now with alex wagner, a great tight for that show. >> thanks, chris. >> let's look at one piece of the exit -- you have some of the piece -- one piece of the exit polling interviewsmississippi. voters asked whether they strongly favored the candidate they voted for. newt gingrich, 69% of the people, 7-10 supported him in alabama, 68% strongly supported him in mississippi.
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for rick santorum, 62 and 45%, according to the two state, for mitt, somewhat lower, 47-51. let me go to chuck on that seems the people that did vote for these people did so with this level of enthusiasm, is it interesting that people did vote for romney weren't enthusiastic -- >> santorum in mississippi. i was surprised by that split in alabama, moore of a passionate base than did he in mississippi. i think that's something to watch for to see as we watch the returns tonight. not surprised by romney, that's been sort of similar to what we have seen, always more passionate behind the conservative candidates, what's also struck me about the exit polls in general and i think you see reflected in that question is that gingrich did make the sale to many of these folks that he was the lone southerner, that he was the lone guy 'cause he did best in both of those among connecting, you know,
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understands average americans, while he was the only one that could speak southern, full, or at least was accepted in the south, both santorum and romney did those awkward things, saying kin, hey, i have got kin here, santorum said that of course, romney his various things. gingrich was is the most authentic. >> relatives in milwaukee but you have kin in mississippi? >> that is what we are seeing in that number as well. >> what are your thoughts, howard, looking through the tea leaves now, awaiting the vote to come out, might get a result as early as 8:00, one of these state, i don't know yet. there is talk of that, might get an early call here what is your thinking about this real variation in intensity because this is one of the things we keep talking about, will the base come out? all right people really show up? >> chris, i don't know if intense si intensity is enough for gingrich, who by the way, is from harrisburg, pennsylvania. i don't know if intensity is going to do it, i don't know if there are enough votes for that
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what we think of as the deep south that would include alabama and mississippi, are quite as different from the rest of the country and they used to be because after all, the three people in this race here are a mormon and two roman catholics. in the old days that would have been impossible to imagine in a major election in the south. so, i think the fact that people are turning out and voting for these three candidates indicates the south has changed, number one, and number two, that they are absolutely desperate to find somebody, anybody plausible to take on barack obama. >> that's right. i agree u to me, it is like fixing your computer, don't care who fixes it you want it fixed. you can call somewhere in india, as long as you get the right answer on the phone, you don't care where it is coming from. i'm being practical go to alex on that these people in the same polling we have been conducting here for a couple of days, they think obama is a mormon, 53% of the states.
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they are -- muslim. >> muslim. >> sorry. there is a mistake. their an tip think is so strong, the distance so strong, they want the guy that can beat him, seems to me. >> exit polling showing 39% of folks in alabama, is the thing, 42% saying beating obama is the number one thing. luke you said, chris, a practical concern there and is their guy. it is surprising given the role that white evangelical voters playing in the republican primary this year around broadly speaking in this race a testimony if not an tipthy but anger toward president obama and they just want this guy out. >> could that be the best card from somebody from mormonism or lds, great irony, one opportunity to be elected president is running against a guy they see remote from them in terms of experience and altitude?
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>> we talked about this before, sparta versus sparta, these guys are both in a sense, aloof president -- aloof candidates, president obama is not one that has enjoyed the political blood sport. we know from mitt romney's executive career as governor of massachusetts, he is not a guy that likes getting his hands dirty, not someone who wants to get in the mud pit, yet he may end up being the nominee for the republican party. >> let look at these number, i want howard -- chuck to start here. look at this number here. republican voters white evangelicals, not a surprise, 81% in mississippi. 73% in alabama. previous high tennessee, 73. so here we have in mississippi, a state with very few sort of cosmopolitan errands. >> a little more rural, jackson area, we expect romney to do well, four years ago, mccain, he lost the jackson area but only
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very narrow ly, he lost the birmingham area narrowly, expect the cosmopolitan areas to go well for romney. looks like a state that mitt romney shouldn't win, the big difference between tennessee, oklahoma, by the romney folks to make conservative, split vote, curious how it fully plays out you get a sense romney had more sustained time to make his case to voters will in previous states, highs like this, rejected him. >> looks like rick santorum, home state -- city of pittsburgh is up against three hammers here, one, up against romney himself, which is not so shattering an opponent to have. two, he is up against, against the fact that mitt -- that newt
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gingrich won't quilt and basically, he is running as an alliance factor, an ally of mitt reend store our future, spenting something like $2 million, blasting away at him, this announce mouse negative ad, who is in guy and how terrible is he? three things going against him, newt attacking santorum, restore our futures attacking him and it is amazing he is still standing. >> remarkable. i would aid, a fading factor, being rolen catholic from the northeast used to be a complete no no in the south. matters less and less, you espouse what evangelical christians believe they want to hear what you have to say. what mitt romney has done in the two state, spent enormously, as usual, running out of money in the regular part of his campaign, put a lot of money, outspent santorum and newt gingrich 3 and 4 to one in these two states.
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mississippi, he he's some ties. the ties in mississippi run through stewart stevens, his wreed ya consultant, the best in the business on the republican side. he happens to be from jackson mississippi, cut his teeth on politics campaigns in mississippi, knows that state as well as everybody and i think he was probably helpful to mitt romney in the state of mississippi. >> yeah, i noticed that romney keeping his wife in the pictures. polls in mississippi and alabama will be closed at the top of this hour. we will be back with the first characterization of the races tonight. this is "hardball's" live coverage of the alabama/mississippi primaries, tonight, here on msnbc. oh! [ baby crying ] ♪ what started as a whisper ♪ every day, millions of people choose to do the right thing. ♪ slowly turned to a scream ♪ there's an insurance company that does that, too.
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we are 12 minutes now from the closing of the polls in alabama and mississippi. we are back with chuck todd, howard fineman and alex wagner. let's look at this comment, as rick santorum told glenn beck on his radio show that newt gingrich has nowhere else to go after tonight to get votes if he can't win, of course. let's watch this attack line from -- from rick santorum. >> shown no ability to be able to get votes outside of -- in and around the state of georgia and that's -- you know, that's really not -- those primaries are all over, all the states that border georgia are now as of -- as of today will have had their primaries. illinois is next. the poll there is showing romney and i running a dead heat race with gingrich about 20 points behind the two of us. and whether he does well or not, i don't think it is going to matter much, he is just not attracting votes anymore.
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it would be great if he would get out of the rates because clearly the vast majority of the votes that he is taking are coming to me. >> we are getting down to the final straws here, alex. there's candidate with his voice going badly, rick santorum, long the underdog in this ray hanging on with the hopes that he can get a wipeout, baseball terminology, a shutout tonight, of newt gingrich so that if he loses to then, then if santorum can win one tonight, he can claim this is a battle royale between him and romney. >> you can probably bet that there's a package of exploding cigars being sent to gingrich headquarters right now. you know, i think mitt -- the inimitable mike murphy just tweeted the dream scenario for mitt romney, mitt romney wins mississippi, newt gingrich wins alabama and senate race and throw tax at rick santorum. right now you newt gingrich is the thing holding back rick santorum from making this a two-man race. >> three things going against santorum, one is the money that romney is spending through his
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super pac, his crowd of his and number two, him, and third is newt gingrich. let me go back to -- >> i think newt is number one. newt has beenone. he has been the blocking back as paul -- >> why is he running? he will never be nominated. >> he has been running, this was about fixing his image. i think this was a statesmanship play. a little about he was tired of being put on the fringes, this is getting back in to being a statesmen in the republican party. >> the question isn't why is he running, the question is why would he get out? he noohas no need. he'll get more delegates. >> it's earning power. >> he'll increase his earning power, increase calista's movies. and play a role at the convention, the more delegates he collects, more chips he has,
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by the way let's not overlook the fact if mitt romney wins one of these two states, he will say you guys were saying i didn't do anything in the south i am i've now done something in the south that will be important if he's able to pull that off. so that is a very important thing for mitt romney we shouldn't lose sight of, but still possible he won't end up at the end of june with 1144 delegates, at which point how many ever delegates newt gingrich has amassed, it could be a few hundred, could be crucial and he's in a position to do a deal with mitt romney. >> that is what i smell coming. down the road, howard, you got a strong point. besides why should he stay in. everybody knows the game here. everybody watching. if gingrich stays in, he helps romney. if he helps romney, romney will remember that. he knows there is bad blood, he helped him win. >> let's talk about the other reality tonight. if romney wins one of these
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state tonight, if he wins one of these states, it's the beginning of a six day end to this campaign as far as the establishment wing of the party is concerned. you will see the remaining fence-sitters between now, if it does happen tonight and pulls one of these off and illinois next tuesday. and wins illinois. it's the exclamation point if he wins illinois. >> suppose santorum wins one tonight, let me go to alex, suppose santorum wins tonight and illinois is interesting territory, isn't it back to a two-man? >> if santorum does well tonight, regardless how he does, he won't do badly, he will go to illinois and make this again a two-person race. as far as the gingrich thing i want to say i think at a certain point the transparency of this just being an ego trip for newt gingrich becomes readily apparent to everyone. let's not forget, everyone, he
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was going to have an event at the birmingham zoo, this morning. this is someone running a campaign of indulgence and i'm not sure he can keep doing that for weeks if not months. >> he's a zoo lover. santorum has to win illinois, i would say, because he came close in michigan, he came close in ohio, he's got one last chance at a big state like that, a big midwestern state, santorum absolutely has to win it. i agree with chuck there will be -- if romney wins one of these state there's will be a lot of this talk but don't forget in the new york times poll yesterday, santorum is running ahead of romney, among republican likely voters. so it will take one more race after this and i think illinois will be it but if santorum can't win michigan, can't win ohio, he's got to win illinois. >> howard you're good at this, do you think cardinal george will endorse santorum in chicago? >> i don't think the cardinals
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are in the business of endorsing. >> they are pretty close. >> the bishops and the organized conservative wing of the catholic church of the united states is and i saw this in ohio, they obviously love santorum. i don't know if that is enough. >> we'll see. thank you, polls will be closed in alabama and mississippi at the top of the hour. we'll get the first numbers in a few minutes. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. i'm a satellite dish.
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polls in alabama and mississippi will be closed in a few minutes. we'll check back right now with chuck todd, howard fineman and alex wagner. you get in the boxes ring, the reason it's interesting is there is two in the ring. can we get to two in the ring? >> the only way is if newt finishes third in both. that would be an embarrassing defeat. >> sweet home alabama. >> howard, i want it to happen, i want a boxes match, i'm tired of the crapola. i want a race between two candidates, can it happen tonight? >> chris, newt gingrich has shown his level of embarrassmen, tolerance for embarrassment is extremely high. but yes, i would agree with chuck if he finishes third in both states, then the calculation -- >> he's going to buddy roemer
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and newt in the same league together. alex, can we get to a final bracket of two tonight? >> chris, you want a boxing match but this is like wwf wrestling, rowdy roddy piper will be jumping in the ring. >> maybe on your noontime wonderful show called "now" but on controlled "hardball" there will be two candidates if newt comes in third. newt you got your marching orders, come in second or first or gone. you're fired. >> thank you, chuck todd. >> thank you, howard fineman, and alex wagner, the hot new brilliant person on our network who dominates -- >> i will take this. >> your years do not tell us of your wisdom. it far exceeds your immediate personal experience. you are the best. i do